PsyDactic

PsyDactic

A resource for psychiatrists interested in exploring the neuroscientific basis of psychiatric disorders, psychopharmacology, neuromodulation, and other psychiatric interventions, as well as discussions of pseudoscience, Bayesian reasoning, ethics, the history of psychiatry, and human psychology in general. This podcast is not medical advice. It strives to be science communication. Dr. O'Leary is a skeptical thinker who often questions what we think we know. He hopes to open more conversations about what we don't know we don't know. Find transcripts with show-notes and references on each episodes dedicated page at psydactic.buzzsprout.com. You can leave feedback at https://www.psydactic.com. The visual companions, when available, can be found at https://youtube.com/@PsyDactic.

Episodes

April 11, 2024 24 mins

In this episode, I discuss a medication that patients who saw a psychiatrist or their primary care provider between about 1997 and 2015 were very likely to find themselves prescribed.  More recently, it has been taken down a notch or two on prescribers lists of preferred meds.  This medication is quetiapine, marketed as Seroquel by AstraZeneca in the US.  Whether you were diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, ...

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This episode continues an intermittent series called “In a Word.”  Past episodes have explored words like Akathisia, Dissociation, Perseveration, and even the difference between Impulsive and Compulsive.  This episode explores Confabulation, including some of the brain circuits involved, and what might differentiate confabulation from other kinds of false or implanted memories or delusions.

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In 2012 the Supreme Court heard two related cases involving adolescents convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole because of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines in their states.  One of the boys, Evan Miller along with an accomplice, had beat a man unconscious with a baseball bat after a fight that ensued when the man awoke to find Miller robbing him.  Miller and his friend then decided to set fire to t...

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I am lucky today to be able to bring you an interview with Dr. Zac Brooks who is passionate about serious mental illness (SMI).  “What is serious mental illness?” you might ask.  That is one of the things we are going to discuss, and you may be surprised when Dr. Brooks explains how it was first formally defined.  We also discuss the numerous ways the US has tried to reform how SMI is treated with variable results.

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PsyDactic welcomes Dr. Jon Lindefjeld for a discussion of the history of HIV and AIDS.  In particular, we discuss the development of effective antiretroviral therapies, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), highlighting the CDC guidelines for use and monitoring, need to treat psychiatric com-morbidities, and the importance of monitoring adherence and drug interactions.

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Dr. O'Leary discusses some of the history of the borderline personality, how different perspectives have attempted to explain its origin, how to treat it and how not to treat it.  He starts in 1947 with some colorful descriptions of patients living with borderline personality disorder that would never get published today, and highlights some of the ways in which we have made progress (or not made progress) in our understanding...

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January 26, 2024 23 mins

Our current diagnostic criteria for personality disorders have failed to demonstrate validity or reliability.  The DSM 5 encouraged psychiatrists to start considering a broad range of personality features adapted from the Five Factor Model. These are combined with global functioning measures to build a personality inventory for any patient who is having dysfunction related to their personality.  Proposed criteria include a Personal...

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January 22, 2024 26 mins

Humans have a history of tattooing that stretches millennia into prehistory.  The western ban on tattoos by the early church resulted in a systematic effort to paint tattooed individuals as pagan, primitive, vulgar, criminal, and mentally ill.  Psychiatrists have historically contributed to this characterization but are in a position to help reframe how citizens and policymakers view tattooed individuals. 

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January 16, 2024 58 mins

The brain understands the world by building models that predict the future.  One of the ways that it does this is by utilizing attractor networks.  These small world networks are constantly trying to determine what is a true signal from the constant noise in the neural net.  Dr. O'Leary explores how attractor networks have been hypothesized to explain psychosis, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder, and how our variou...

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When I started to make this episode, I thought I would try to do a comprehensive review of all of the various functions of serotonin across its 15 or more receptor types, but I soon found myself overwhelmed.  More importantly, I found that some stories are more interesting to tell than others, so here I discuss serotonin and focus on how a few 5-HT receptors can not only help us survive, but also motivate ourselves to reach our goa...

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December 15, 2023 21 mins

Frequently I have complained that the terms "typical and atypical" or "first generation and second generation" antipsychotics were not very helpful.  When I give chalk talks to junior residents and interns about antipsychotics, this is one of the first things that I note.  It is the medicines relative affinities for different receptors that appear to make the difference, not whether they were discovered prior to...

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This episode explores side effects of antipsychotics at the molecular level.  It starts by exploring receptors and their ligands and takes a turn into the dorsal striatum where dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, and glutamate work together to help us dance the mamba.  Dr. O'Leary explores what happens when the complex pathways of the cortico-striatal-thalamo-cortical tract are disrupted by antipsychotics both in the short ter...

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The authors of the famous sequenced treatment alternatives to relieve depression trial or STAR*D reported that about two-thirds or 67% of patients had achieved remission after 4 trials of antidepressant medication.   This remission rate has been questioned over the years and in October of 2023, the journal BMJ Open published an article that reports to have reanalyzed the date from STAR*D using the original study design.  This re-an...

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December 3, 2023 32 mins

This episode is about dopamine.  In episode 32, I discussed the pseudoscientific trend of the “dopamine detox”  or "dopamine fasting."  Instead of talking about pseudoscience in this episode, I discuss the actual science surrounding dopamine and its relationship with the neuroleptics or antipsychotics as they are more commonly known.   The effects and side effects of antipsychotics are related to the function of the major...

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November 11, 2023 29 mins

In this Episode, I  continue an intermittent series called “In A Word.”  The difference between prior episodes and this one is that today I have two words.  I chose these words because I don’t really know the difference between them, and even after reading and trying to understand the difference, I am not sure that there is a clear difference.  The two words are Impulsive and Compulsive.


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I discuss something  that is likely to present itself to a physician long after the fact: a single mild brain injury.  This episode focuses on how to classify the severity of a single brain injury.  While working in a brain injury unit, I noticed that some providers used the term severe brain injury when referring patients to neurology or neuropsychiatry, and this communicates something very specific that they may not realize they ...

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August 7, 2023 15 mins

This episode continues a series on the prefrontal cortex, a complex region of the brain that gives us the ability to have the kinds of thoughts no other species on earth is known to have.   The medial (or mesial) prefrontal cortex is especially important for emotional and autonomic regulation, attention and goal-directed behaviors (including addiction), and building our sense of self (that is our identity as a thing separate from t...

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In this episode, I am sliding down and under the front part of the brain and consider the orbital frontal cortex, that part of the brain right above and a little behind your eyes.  It is much smaller than the lateral gyri on the prefrontal cortex, but appears to be an important probability generator in our brain when we need to consider different options that can result in different rewards or in order to avoid aversive stimuli.  T...

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We seem to understand the specializations of the the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on the left better than the right side of our brain.  That is because most of us do a lot more language processing on the left or dominant side.  The more inferior and caudal parts of the dorsolateral PFC on the left side are more specialized for speech.  The more superior parts are more involved in working memory, attention control, and task switch...

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Besides being relatively hairless apes, there are some things about humans that make us special among animals.  In the past we have noted things like, “We have big brains and we use tools,” or “We contemplate the future and our own mortality,” or “We use a truly complex language both verbal and written to communicate complex ideas.”  These are things we have and do, but what is it about our brains that makes that possible.  More an...

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